Published On: Tue, Oct 27th, 2015



Doctors have been blamed for Medical tourism in Nigeria as some doctors and unscrupulous business men connive with foreign agents to send patients abroad for profit.

The Chief Medical Director, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Prof Temitope Alonge who made the allegation said the practice results in billions of naira lost in capital flight yearly.

Delivering a paper titled: “The Nigerian Health Sector: Maladies and Remedies” at the inauguration of Tri-State Heart and Cardiovascular Centre, Babcock University Teaching Hospital, Ilisan-Remo, in Ogun State at the weekend, Alonge said: “Medical tourism is common on our lips. But medical tourism is not the fault of the tourist. The major problem in medical tourism are doctors in Nigeria and business men in Nigeria. The doctors in Nigeria tell their friends in abroad, ‘we cannot do it in Nigeria so I am going to ship them over to you’.

“The Indian government established a system in UCH that is called the Pan-African Network. And they wanted me to refer patients to India. And I told them not in your life will I do that. If I can’t manage a case in UCH that will be part of one per cent that we cannot cover. Because we have more than enough manpower; what we need to do is to strengthen the resources.

“I have colleagues in Lagos who do nothing but medical tourism. They are certificated as doctors but what they do is to ship patients abroad. Because for every sixth patient you send to India, America, the money that is supposed to use for that patient will be paid to you. So, if I send 10 patients, only eight patients will pay. The remaining five million will will be paid to the doctor.”

Alonge praised the inauguration of the state-of-the-art centre, saying it was fulfilling the specialist care that many public tertiary institutions could not fulfil because of poor funding.

Also speaking, Chief Bisi Akande, chairman of the Tri-State Heart Foundation, which was launched at the event to raise funds for heart surgeries for the under-privileged, he accepted the challenge of helping to fight heart disease because of the prevalence of the ailment in the country.

“The Tristate team are here in Nigeria on a national medical mission to a country where heart-related diseases are becoming a national disgrace. However, Tristate Cardiovascular Associates have reversed this trend; the team has performed 43 open-heart surgeries in the space of few months of operation in Nigeria,” he said.

The APC chieftain was also optimistic the centre would help reverse medical tourism in Nigeria.

“If you are still grappling with the reality of what is happening here today, then, let me make it more graphic. The fact is that Nigerians no longer need to travel abroad to get treatment for heart-related diseases, many of which are correctable with surgery. It also means that Nigeria’s mortality rate will improve significantly since people suffering from this kind of ailment do not need to pass through the rigour of queuing for a visa or struggling to fund the cost of travelling abroad,” he said.

Lauding the initiative, the Emir of Kano, HRH Muhammadu Sanusi II, advocated for low-interest financing for similar projects by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“As a former governor of the CBN, I do hope that some of the initiatives started by the Central Bank of getting long term loans to critical areas  will be extended to healthcare and education. I do not see many of these centres being built with short term money at 20 per cent plan. And just as we tried to help agriculture and manufacturing given the great outcome that we have from improving healthcare and education, the educational sector, healthcare sector, should have major interventions that allow these kinds of centres to be built all over the country,” he said.

After the inauguration, Prof Kamar Adeleke, President/CEO, Tristate Cardiovascular Associates, conducted the Emir and other dignitaries on tour of the centre. The N2 billion worth centre has ultra-modern equipment for the CT lab, operating room and the wards.

Vice Chancellor, Babcock University, Prof Kayode Makinde, said that Chief Kessignton Adebutu, who donated the BUTH Accident and Emergency centre, also promised to sponsor patients identified by his foundation; while the Acting Chairman, Nigerian Health Insurance Scheme, Mr Femi Agunbiade, promised to send 10 patients to the centre under the scheme; and five every month if the centre works well.



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